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al kafi 1403


Assalamualaikum SS Mufti. Is it sufficient for the praying mat or saf to be considered as sutrah to prevent others from passing in front of a person who is praying?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Sutrah literally means anything made as a barrier. (Refer: al-Qamus al-Muhith). The term is used in fiqh to define anything placed in front of a person who is praying. It could be something like a cane, piled-up soil, etc to prevent another person from walking in front of him. (Refer: al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 3/176-177)

In a hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

إِذَا صَلَّى أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيُصَلِّ إِلَى سُتْرَةٍ وَلْيَدْنُ مِنْهَا وَلاَ يَدَعْ أَحَدًا يَمُرُّ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ فَإِنْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ يَمُرَّ فَلْيُقَاتِلْهُ فَإِنَّهُ شَيْطَانٌ

“When anyone of you performs the prayer, let him pray facing towards a Sutrah, and let him get close to it, and not let anyone pass in front of him. If someone comes and wants to pass in front of him, let him fight him, for he is a Shaytan (satan).’

Sunan Ibn Majah (1007)

It is stated in al-Fiqh al-Manhaji (1/392-393): Among the sunnah before prayer is putting something as the barrier (سترَةٌ) in front of the person. This is the separation line between the person who is praying and those who are passing, like walls, poles, canes or by spreading a praying mat and etc. If there is nothing for him to place in front of him, then he should just draw a line. This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar RA, he said:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا خَرَجَ يَوْمَ الْعِيدِ أَمَرَ بِالْحَرْبَةِ فَتُوضَعُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ، فَيُصَلِّي إِلَيْهَا وَالنَّاسُ وَرَاءَهُ، وَكَانَ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ فِي السَّفَرِ

“Whenever Allah's Messenger () came out on `Id day, he used to order that a Harba [حَربَةٌ] (a short spear) to be planted in front of him (as a Sutra for his prayer) and then he used to pray facing it with the people behind him and used to do the same while on a journey.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (472) and Muslim (501)

In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

إِذَا صَلَّى أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَجْعَلْ تِلْقَاءَ وَجْهِهِ شَيْئًا فَإِنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَلْيَنْصِبْ عَصًا فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ مَعَهُ عَصًا فَلْيَخْطُطْ خَطًّا ثُمَّ لاَ يَضُرُّهُ مَا مَرَّ أَمَامَهُ

“When one of you prays, he should put something in front of his face, and if he can find nothing, he should set up his staff; but if he has no staff, he should draw a line; then what passes in front of him will not harm him.”

Sunan Abi Dawud (689). Imam al-Nawawi stated that al-Baghawi and other scholars of hadith stated that this hadith is weak.

It is stated in al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah:

The scholars of Hanafi and Shafi’ie analogically deduced (qiyas) a line at the place a person is praying is the same as a praying mat. Al-Tahawi stated: This qiyas is prioritized because al-mushalla (the standing place for prayer; praying mat) could prevent people from passing in front better compared to just a drawn line.

Hence, Shafie scholars prefer a praying mat than a mere line. They state: “(Spread of a praying mat) is prioritized than a line because it fits the meaning better (sutrah).” (Refer: al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 24/180; Refer also: Hasyiyah al-Tahtawi ‘ala Maraqi al-Falah, pg. 101 and Mughni al-Muhtaj, 1/200).

Imam Nawawi said: “According to the majority of his ashab (scholars of Shafi’e), sutrah is sunnah. And the hadith which mentions of its height, to be as tall as the horse paddle does not indicate that it is wrong to draw a line.”

He also said: “It is sunnah for those who perform prayer to place a sutrah in front of him like walls or poles and pray near to them, while the distance between him and the sutrah does not exceed three cubits. If one performs prayer in a desert, he should put a cane and etc., or piling stuff or accessories from his camel that reach the height of the horse paddle.

If he does not find anything to be made as sutrah, then he should draw a line in front of him or a spread as the place to pray. Imam al-Haramain and al-Ghazali said, there is no meaning of drawing a line (not permissible). However, the truth is, what is stated by the jumhur is, it is enough with a line, the same as when he is in front of his stuff.” (Refer: Raudhah al-Thalibin, 1/108)


According to the stated evidences, it is clear to us that it is permissible to draw a line as the barrier of the sutrah for prayer. The statement of the Prophet PBUH “فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ مَعَهُ عَصًا فَلْيَخْطُطْ خَطًّا ثُمَّ لاَ يَضُرُّهُ مَا مَرَّ أَمَامَهُ” clearly shows that, first, one should use a cane or anything that could be placed upright in front of the person. If not, then he should draw a line. This is the answer to the question asked above.

May Allah give us all understanding and made us among those who perform prayer. Let’s supplicate together:

 رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ ﴿٤١﴾ وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ اللَّـهَ غَافِلًا عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ تَشْخَصُ فِيهِ الْأَبْصَارُ ﴿٤٢﴾

“Our Lord, forgive me and my parents and the believers the Day the account is established.” (41) And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare [in horror].

Surah Ibrahim (41-42)